Grim(m) Stories: The Six Swans – 5 1/2 shirts in 6 years

Why, yes, a fairy tale recap! The shows are on hiatus, I am up-to-date with them and thus have time for something else.
I read “The Six Swans” and quite frankly, I didn’t remember that very well.  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t; in any case, I’ll remind you.

There’s a king. He has seven children: six sons and a girl. The mother is dead (of course…). One day, the king goes hunting and somehow gets lost in the woods. He comes across an old woman, though, who offers to lead him out of the forest IF he marries her daughter.
Now, she leads him to her daughter, who is very beautiful, but apparently evil. Well, the king, wanting to get home, agrees to just marry her and takes her along with him.

But, again, he thinks she’s evil, so he decides to just take his children away and hide them in a lonely castle in the woods (the very same woods? And why hide them alone?).
Anyway, the whole point of it was to not let the new queen know that he had kids in the first place (I’m not sure about the logistics here), but he went to visit them all the time and so the new queen figured it out. She’s evil, but she’s not stupid, you see?
So she goes to visit the children and the boys run outside because they think she’s their father (What does the father look like? What does she look like?) and the queen just curses them to change into swans.

Well, she leaves and she never found out about the girl. The king arrives later that day and the, I quote, “little girl” tells him what happened. He wants her to return with him, but the girl is afraid that the queen might just turn her into a swan as well, so she runs away instead.

She comes across a hut with six beds and now if you think she’s tested them all, you’re wrong! She just hid underneath one of them. Luckily, in the evening, the swans join her and turn into her brothers again for 15 minutes. They tell her that she needs to sew 6 shirts out of starwort in the course of six years during which she is not allowed to speak or laugh.
All right.

So, she agrees to just do that, ventures out into the forest and starts collecting the plant and then sits and starts sewing.
She could have been sitting there sewing for the next six years, but no such luck.

Another king hunts in the woods with his huntsmen and they spot the girl and ask who she is, but she can’t talk so she doesn’t answer. Instead, she starts throwing her belongings (necklace, clothing) at them to, IDK, make them go away or something. It doesn’t quite work out. When she’s only clad in her shift, the men just kind of go and grab her and lead her before the king. Now, of course, the king finds her very beautiful, takes her along and marries her.

HOLD UP A SECOND. She was a ‘little girl’ just roughly two days ago. For me, that insinuates she’s pretty young. Ten at most. She shouldn’t be marrying anybody. Not a prince, not a king.

She does, anyway, and she soon gets pregnant, too. When the child is born, though, her mother-in-law takes the child away (because she hates the girl). Not only that, she also smears blood around her mouth and tells her son that the girl has eaten the child.
WUT? What is even going on?
Much to his credit, the king doesn’t believe that and says the girl couldn’t have done it. The girl, herself, is unfazed, she just keeps sewing.

It happens again with the next child and again the king is all, “Nope, she didn’t do it.”

On the third time, though, he decides that maybe she did it, so he orders that she shall be burned at the stake. That’s a rather harsh sentence for a queen, innit?
By now, the girl has sewed 5 shirts and 1 that lacks a sleeve. IT’S BEEN SIX YEARS. SIX. She’s been doing nothing else but giving birth and sewing! How come she never managed to finish it??

She takes this 5 1/2 shirts with her to the execution, which is conveniently on the last day of these six years. The fire gets lit just as the swans fly in an grab the shirts and turn back into humans! Except for one who now has a wing instead of an arm. Tough luck, buddy.
Now the girl can talk now and so she tells the king about the wicked mother (somewhere in between this, they’ve rescued her, I guess, for she’s not burning). The king gets properly upset and burns his mother instead. The children are brought back to the couple and they live happily ever after.

So, er… my advice based on this is: stop procrastinating! You can do more than 5 1/2 shirts in six years.
You can read the original version by the Grimm brothers right here. If you have a fairy tale that you would like to see recapped, please feel free to comment and I’ll squeeze into my schedule.
Until then, have yourself a lovely day :)


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